"The war on drugs has not prevented the creation or the growth of the illicit drug market. On the contrary; it is drug prohibition itself that creates the illegality, the lack of control and all the harm created by this uncontrolled and highly profitable business."
Thiago Luís Martins da Silva has been working as a police chief of the Civil Police of the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro since December 2013. He joined the Civil Police in 2002. He worked as an inspector for more than eleven years, and in 2013 he passed the examination to become a police chief. Thiago has worked in several police units, including the Delegacia de Combate às Drogas (DECOD), a police unit charged with fighting drug trafficking. For about two years, he battled drug traffickers in the poorest regions of the city of Rio de Janeiro.
Thiago’s experience as the police officer has strengthened his awareness of the failure and harm caused by drug prohibition. “The war on drugs has not prevented the creation or the growth of the illicit drug market. On the contrary; it is drug prohibition itself that creates the illegality, the lack of control and all the harm created by this uncontrolled and highly profitable business. The war on drugs strategy brings devastating social, political and human consequences. It provokes fear and violence. It creates bloody battles between different groups of retail sellers and with the police. When the strategy is based on a war paradigm, the idea is to eliminate your ‘enemy’. When you fight a war, you kill. It is too easy to justify people’s deaths in wartime. The official speeches broadcast by the media create a general consensus that there is an internal enemy to be eliminated. Drug prohibition and its war on drugs also cause endemic police corruption, as well as the corruption of a large share of the authorities and institutions that are directly or indirectly responsible for this combat.”
Thiago joined LEAP when he was still working as an inspector, in August 2011. He supports regulation of the production, supply and consumption of all drugs because he believes that legalization will prevent the incarceration of thousands of people for non-violent offenses; will allow a rational management and control of drug production; will reduce overdoses through the public health system; and will reduce urban and rural violence, which currently affects mostly the poor and nonwhite population. As he says, “Legalization of the production, supply and consumption of all drugs is a rational, reasonable and feasible way to improve the quality of life in Brazilian society, as well as in all other societies. Demanding legalization means protecting life and citizenship.”